Lake bursts in Nepal, Bihar sounds flood alert in Kosi

  • Binod Dubey, Aditya N Jha & Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Patna/Supaul/Kathmandu
  • Updated: Sep 08, 2014 01:57 IST

The Bihar government on Sunday sounded a fresh alert in flood-prone districts falling in the Kosi belt of north Bihar following a heavy discharge in the downstream of the Sun Kosi in Nepal, caused by incessant rain in catchment areas of the Himalayan country.

District magistrates of vulnerable districts, particularly Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura, Purnia and Khagaria and field engineers of the water resources department have been instructed to remain in full readiness in view of the impending crisis.

The officials have been told that if necessary people living in low-lying areas and between embankments, should be moved to safer places.

Confirming the sudden development, WRD minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said, “We have sounded the alert in view of the high discharge in Sun Kosi and Bhote Kosi rivers in Nepal.”

He, however, said at present there was nothing to be alarmed, for the discharge at the Birpur Kosi barrage on Sunday evening was one lakh cusec, which is normal in the rainy season.

“The reason for sounding the alert was also that we had come to know in the morning that the blockage at the Bhote Kosi river, which had created an artificial lake in the upper stream of the river, was blasted leading to a huge inflow of water,” said Chaudhary. “However, on verification, we found that it was just a rumour,” he added.

“Immediately after we got reports of removal of the debris on Sunday morning, we contacted authorities of the Sindhupalchowk district in Nepal to verify it. We were told there was indeed a high discharge in the downstream of the Sun Kosi and Bhote Kosi rivers, but it was not because of the removal of the blockage,” the minister said.

Chaudhary, however, said the state administration would remain alert throughout the current flood season.

Earlier, reports from Kathmandu said the over two-kilometre-long artificial lake created by last month’s massive landslide, which blocked Nepal’s Sunkoshi river, burst early on Sunday morning.

According to Nepal army personnel present on the site, the water level on the lake came down significantly within hours of the lake bursting at 4am.

Though there has been a rise in the water level of the river downstream due to the lake bursting there is no report yet of any damage or destruction.

Chief district officer Gopal Prasad Parajuli said residents of some villages lying downstream have been moved to safer places and the situation is under control.
Traffic on the Arniko highway, which runs along the river, has been stopped as a safety measure.

Meanwhile, an alert has been sounded in Saptari district bordering north Bihar as water level of Sapta Kosi (the name given to the Sun Kosi downstream) started rising following the lake burst.

According to the state-run Rashtriya Samachar Samiti, the water flow at the Kosi barrage on the Indo-Nepal border was recorded as 114,380cusec on Sunday afternoon.

The sudden increase in water level of the river could lead to floods in northern Bihar bordering Nepal where the river enters India.

The lake was created following a massive landslide at Sindhupalchowk district on August 2, which claimed as many as 157 lives.

Over the past one month, the Nepal army has been conducting controlled blasts at the dam created by the landslide to provide outlet to the accumulated water of the artificial lake.

It is believed the blasts coupled with Saturday night’s downpour could have resulted in the lake burst.

In August 2008, the eastern embankments of the Kosi barrage had collapsed due to heavy rain, leading to massive flooding in north Bihar that killed a large number of people and left over a million homeless.

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